Public Speaking

I teach bright students who can learn just about anything I put in front of them quickly and with ease; however, public speaking is something the majority of my students struggle with getting up in front of their peers.  Over the past few years, I have started forcing students to do things like sharing their writing, narratives and speeches, with their classmates.  Last year, one student would do a great job sharing only to put his head down and cry as soon as he sat in his chair.  My students NEED to develop these skills because many of them will have jobs where they will be presenting to groups of all sizes.  I want them to be confident in their own ideas and abilities.

This year, I found out about TED Ed Clubs and have just started using them with my advanced classes. Students are getting release forms signed, I will send them in, and we will start working through the process that will lead to students having written and presented their own TED style talk about a subject they are passionate about.  I can’t wait!

Here are some things I found on the importance of teaching public speaking skills specifically.

“Why is Public Speaking Important?” Stenhouse blog

“Now, let me make a radical statement: the mission of education should not be to make students better at school but rather to prepare them for life.”

“While speaking skills may have been somewhat underemphasized in schools, they have not been underemphasized in the real world.”

“Further support for the value of speaking skills comes from a study of 104 Silicon Valley employers. Silicon Valley is the home of many of America’s high-tech firms, and you might expect that they would place a high value on math and engineering skills, right? Company representatives were asked several questions about desired qualities in prospective employees. The question “What additional business communication skills would you like to see in your recent college graduate new hires?” produced interesting results: Employers sought improved oral presentation skills more frequently than they did written skills. Their comments expressed a need for stronger skills in public speaking, enhanced interpersonal skills, increased confidence, and improved interviewing skills. Several wrote that students needed more presentation skills, highlighting the ability to use software tools like PowerPoint. This was surprising, because the popular press talks more about a lack of writing skills among college graduates than about insufficient oral skills. (Stevens 2005,7; emphasis added)”

We Should be Teaching Public Speaking in School” The Washington Post 

Teacher’s Guide to the Middle School Public Debate Program